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Input for Political Party Platforms

By Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq.


( -- As I’ve traveled around the country the past few months, it’s clear that there are so many procedures for voting. There are 51 state plans, 1,300+ county plans and over 13,000 municipality plans. No wonder there is so much confusion! Even federal offices are controlled by state officials often hostile to their opposing party’s candidates. We know from Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, and over 30 other states these state laws have created a lot of confusion.

We were put on notice after the Supreme Court challenge in Bush v. Gore that pursuant to the 10th Amendment of the Constitution there’s no affirmative right to vote in federal elections. The case revealed the Constitutional authority of states to control federal elections of president, vice president, and Congress. Consider all that’s going on now to decrease the number of voters and no matter which party holds our allegiance, we should be alarmed. In order to fill the glaring gap in federal elections, we should make an effort to influence our party’s platform. All parties should support state and federal Constitutional Amendments for an affirmative right to vote for all citizens. This Amendment would require a unitary electoral system for federal elections to include one ballot, one voting machine for all jurisdictions casting votes for Constitutional officers, and allow federal oversight at every level over these elections.

It would decrease irrational forms of voter suppression. We can’t continue the risk of having governors cause hardships for the most vulnerable when it comes to casting a vote. Our ancestors gave blood, sweat and tears to allow us to vote—and it’s not right to have anyone playing dangerous games with that right. When we are active in our party’s platform formation, we should tell leaders to spare nothing in protecting not just our voting rights, but also the rights of women, seniors, people with disabilities, poor people and everyone without a level playing field. Those who enlarge our electorate are the true patriots—not those who decrease it.

In our community we have many concerns and would like to see the party of our choice support and address them strongly enough to include them in party platforms so that platforms support our interests.

Another concern is Wall Street Regulation. The financial collapse of 2008 in large part was caused by weak regulation of financial institutions and un-enforced existing regulations. Three platform planks should be adopted: 1) Regulations to separate commercial banks from investment banks similar to the Glass-Stegal legislation put forth in 1933 by the Roosevelt Administration, 2) Restriction of trading of derivatives—the culprit of the home mortgage challenges from which many of us are still reeling, and 3) Requiring justification of year-end financial bonuses commensurate with financial standing of institutions. Middle class and poor people don’t get bonuses unless they’ve performed extraordinarily well—and not always then. Why should Wall Street have bonuses when the job they’re doing is dragging down the nation’s financial health?

Both parties should have a platform plank that speaks to employment and what the party plans to do to increase jobs. Up to now, Republicans have blocked every proposal put forth to resolve the jobs crisis without coming up with a plan of their own. Parties should support the Humphrey Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment Act legislation offered by Rep. John Conyers. The bill places a small tax on speculative transactions, and raises about 1.5 billion dollars that could be used for jobs. Full employment would greatly benefit our nation’s financial health and eliminate some of the fear that’s causing otherwise good people to act irrationally. Get involved in your party’s platform development because it’ll determine what the party supports for the next 4 years.

(Dr. Williams can be reached at 202/678-6788 or see For BLF, .)

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